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A portrait of Ben Williams
Ben Williams

Victor Dlamini looked like a journalist, the first time I saw him, freighted as he was with a professional photographer's camera and a backpack of its accessories. We were at a famous poet's house, which was alive with the chatter of a handful of writers, to celebrate the kick-off of a poetry festival. Such things were rarer and more precious then. Victor and myself were recording the event for posterity, I with reportage, he with pictures. There's no doubt whose work will last longer: Victor was already making photographs that could stand the test of time. In the years since, he has gained versatility with many different types of cameras - from digital to film to plate, from medium-format to iPhone - but the aim of his work remains the same: to capture his subjects' essential spark of life. To look into the face of someone framed in Victor's lens is to see fireflies dancing in a mind. 

It's been said that the best kinds of artists are amateur enthusiasts, because their art, free from commercial considerations, is the end in itself. Victor, an amateur only in this strictest of senses, retains such obvious delight in employing his patiently-acquired skills, that it's a joy to watch him at work. He operates stealthily but in plain sight, a hunter and a conjuror combined, dancing around his subject, testing the the angles of approach. Faces are Victor's specialty; he works until he has brought the softness of a person's visage on to the film or CCD; the end result, even on the small screen at the back of a digital SLR, looks as kneadable as the living flesh.


Long may Victor continue to pursue his art: as with the best photographs, those of the writers and musicians found in his work are themselves a kind of writing, a kind of music.

Victor Dlamini

By Ben Williams

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